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We’re dealing with COVID-19, but what’s a virus in the first place? — One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Tony, over at One Regular Guy Writing About Food, Exercise and Living Past 100, added this incredibly interesting post… I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It’s a good read.

Everybody knows by now that the United States and the world are in the grip of one of the dangerous coronaviruses called COVID-19, but what’s a virus and how can it make us feel ill? Why do our bodies react the way they do? Are viruses alive? “Viruses aren’t considered alive – in class I […]

via We’re dealing with COVID-19, but what’s a virus in the first place? — One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Cycling Therapy for COVID-19? You Might Be Surprised…

The first tightening in my chest, where I could tell something wasn’t quite right, scared the hell out of me.  I texted my boss that I shouldn’t come to work and he agreed, offering that I could work from home.  My cycling buddy’s son, then wife had been sick and we’d been fist-bumping after rides like it was going out of style.  That was supposed to be acceptable…  The dry cough started Thursday morning, though it never approached “uncontrollable”.  Mildly annoying is a better description.  I went out for a bike ride with Chuck that afternoon anyway.  No way I was going to let this get in the way – it wasn’t all that bad and I was going to will myself into being asymptomatic.  It was a slow ride as chuck was starting to feel a bit under the weather himself.  Chuck and I tooled around our normal loop at just under 16-mph… about 3-mph slower than normal (Tuesday had been 18.85-mph on the same route).

Friday had me pretty nervous.  One can will oneself not to be sick, and sometimes it works, but I wasn’t kidding myself either.  I was waiting for the hammer to fall.  The weather wasn’t all that great, either.  A cold front had blown in so I chose to ride my trainer indoors around lunchtime.  The hammer never dropped.  The cough subsided Friday afternoon and the tightness in my chest was entirely gone by Saturday morning.  For Saturday, it was really cold, so another ride on the trainer.  Again, easy so as not to flare anything up, but not too easy.

Sunday, the weather improved and Chuck and I were back outside.  I was feeling fine, he was still battling his mild fever.  On that ride, Chuck said he’d spoken with his sister, a nurse, who recommended “deep breathing exercises”.  Well what better deep breathing exercise is there than riding a bike?  We were out for 2 hours, covering a little more than 35 miles.  Over the next five days I covered 184 slow(ish) miles and I’m feeling fantastic.

Then this:

Recommendations

Aerobic exercise. Before infection aerobic exercise is recommended to strengthen cardiovascular health. Once infected, during the period of mild symptoms, moderate daily aerobic exercise can improve lung ventilation. Such exercise may benefit immune function as well [10]. Ideally, do this exercise outdoors or with open windows or otherwise well ventilated areas. In sufficiently warm climates, longer walks or even running may improve lung capacity. Jumping jacks, jogging in place, or dancing can be done even in small spaces.

Is the advice legit?  I don’t know, but I’ve heard it from enough people I trust that I trust it.  And it definitely helped me.  Who knew?

On another note, and purely turning the frown upside down, it’s unmistakable what this virus has done for getting people outside in my neck of the USA.  Folks, I see more walkers than I do cars while I’m out on those bike rides nowadays… and the number of those who are smiling while we wave as I go by is simply fantastic.

What to Do About Recovery Amidst the Covid-19 Scare; It’s Time to Get Creative

Meetings are being canceled left and right. Churches and schools alike are closing their doors with the hope of staving off the inevitable.  Originally, I thought this was political (God knows the depths to which politicians will sink to unjustly make hay of a crisis – they’ve certainly shown their stripes with this one) but that argument just doesn’t work because the whole entire world is losing it all at the same time… it’s more than mere politics with this, and I’m beginning to understand, watching Italy tell those over 80 they can’t be cared for, the why of it.  We need to get behind this to mitigate the damage.

This won’t be a commentary on the panic, as much as it will be a few suggestions on how to cope with the lack of the one thing active recovery requires; human fellowship.

Folks, my normal meetings were canceled this week. I’ve got about a week of sanity before shit starts going sideways so I’m going to have to get a little creative with how I work my program.  As I like to say, my disease is sitting in a cage doing push-ups, waiting for a time like this… I have to be ready.

  • Pick up the phone.  Remember back to the days when you struggled to pick up that thousand pound phone?  Well, if you’re not a natural at automatically reaching for it if you have an issue to talk through, now is the time to broaden your horizons.  Pick it up.  Call a friend.  The person on the other end of the line, in all likelihood, needs the conversation just as much as you do.
  • Home meetings with a handful of friends.  Obviously, we have to be careful with this one.  You know the drill, if someone’s sick they don’t come (though this might be a little outdated, they’re now saying everyone should act as if they have it).
  • Read, read, read.  Read your Big Book.  Read your Daily Reflections.  Read a Grapevine.
  • Visit your sponsor – assuming your sponsor isn’t over 60, of course.  We have to think of others first here.
  • This is likely the most important:  Write or do something constructive for your recovery.  This could be a time that brings you down and makes you struggle, edging closer to misery, but why?  Make this a time to really dig deep and grow yourself in your recovery.  Deepen your faith, reach out and help others in recovery, grow in your program.

I heard something interesting on the radio this morning that really struck a chord.  The last few generations were called to war.  You’re being called so sit on your couch.

Sure, this will be tough but your recovery is stronger than this.  Make it work.

Only Drug Addicts Have a Stigma Equal That of Vegans… And The BBC Entirely Misses the Simple Gist of Why That Is.

An article written for the BBC claims:

People love to moan that vegans are annoying: research has shown that only drug addicts inspire the same degree of loathing. Now psychologists are starting to understand why – and it’s becoming clear that the reasons aren’t entirely rational.

And that’s just the headline! The best part is, and you won’t find this in their article, that loathing is entirely rational, as I’m about to demonstrate.

So why do normal, rational people have a disdain for vegans equal to that of people who cheat, steal, and lie to remain the dregs of society? Well, don’t bother clicking on the link to the BBC article to learn something useful, you won’t. Truthfully, I’m surprised vegans don’t inspire more loathing than addicts and alcoholics do… that would be entirely rational, too.  At least in an addict, being a scourge is a part of a disease…

To understand this, because I happen to be one who holds a special disdain for pretentious vegans whilst not losing my $#!+ about it, I’ll be able to let you in on the secret the BBC wasn’t able to discover.  Now, as a disclaimer, I know there are quite a few upstanding vegans/vegetarians who read my blog regularly – you are not of the pretentious variety and should not take this post to be directed at you – it most certainly is not.  For the aforementioned secret, we need only look at a typical vegan’s actions from the perspective of looking at the actions of a newly recovering addict or alcoholic.

Imagine an addict who found, miraculously, recovery. They found the answer to their unique dilemma and completely changed their ways.  By unique, to use alcoholics as an example, only 10% of the drinking population end up an alcoholic. 90% of drinkers have no problem whatsoever…  They then, in their exuberance, decide to push others to work their recovery program, not just to help other addicts, but normal people as well.  Not to present an environment in which those others can understand what it’s like for we addicts and alcoholics to recover from our addiction(s), but to actually push normal folks to accept and work a recovery program in their lives because the addict/alcoholic thinks it would be good for others to live the way they do because, in the estimation of that addict/alcoholic, normal people just aren’t living up to the addict’s standards – they’re not living right.

Then, and this is the fun part, for those who resisted (as any normal person should), the nutters break into their homes, steal and/or break their stuff, disrupt their family lives and way of life with the hope the normal folk would cave and follow their way of life… This is what vegans do and why normal, polite society has a disdain for them.  As for the normal vegetarians, they get the short end of the stick due to a bit of guilt by association.  The nutter vegans are so loud and horrible, as soon as you hear “I’m a vegetarian”, it triggers instant daymares of the “allow me to tell you why you’re living wrong, you animal murdering bastard” conversation to follow.  We, as they say, simply turn and run for the hills.

That’s the level of pretentiousness exuded by vegans. That’s why vegans are despised. It’s not just that they are just pretentious, obnoxious, hateful people. It’s that they demand others share their idiosyncrasies and wildly misplaced and supercharged guilt. They’re typically ignorant as hell, while maintaining that pretentiousness, and won’t rest until others follow their chosen way of life no matter how wrong it is – and that’s maddening to normal folk who want to have peace and eat their bacon, too.

Take, for instance, a recent example in which two vegans broke into a farm in Italy to “save” some rabbits. They liberated 16 bunnies but failed to understand that those bunnies were mothers. Liberating the mother bunnies caused the death of more than 90 little, innocent, baby bunny rabbits and reports say they killed another five trying to liberate the 16.  Point is, that woman and her team should be charged with breaking and entering, theft, then as a terrorist (same with eco-terrorists).

As for the ignorance, we only need know that vegan diets are typically woefully deficient in many nutrients that cause various illnesses unless synthetic, man-made, hyper-super-duper-processed supplements are taken to maintain some semblance of health.  Here’s a news flash – eating a balanced diet is actually quite simple, until you try to eat vegan.  At that point, you have to micromanage your diet to get the nutrition right.  It’s not supposed to be that way, folks.  Even then, science is beginning to show that people who rely on those supplements are at greater risk of developing certain cancers and illnesses.  Sure, vegans claim to feel healthy for a time, but eventually malnutrition catches up and they run into health problems.  Hair thins over time and starts to fall out, and eventually they become sickly.  Generally speaking, that’s a lack of iron, iodine and Vitamin D, and a few others, dears, and guess where you get iron, iodine and Vitamin D.

The BBC claims loathing vegans isn’t entirely rational? Bullshit. It’s perfectly rational. I’d go as far as logical, and trying to ignore the reasons behind this reasonable loathing, blaming it on something else, only helps to keep the perpetrators ignorant as hell.

If I described you, if you’re a vegan who would break into someone’s home, farm or place of business to stop someone else from eating a healthy diet you happen to disagree with, stop it.  You’re a terrorist and an idiot.  If I didn’t describe you, this wasn’t about you in the first place, and I’m glad you’re a normal functioning part of society along with the vast majority of everyone else.  If you got a chuckle, well, for that I am grateful.  I’ve done my job.

A Special Note to My Recovering Friends Out There; We Interrupt the Regular Message…

My friends, this is going to be very short.  I fell asleep on the couch watching the World Series last night after fixing my wife’s rear brake (new housings, cable, the whole nine yards – expertly done, I might add).  All was good in my world as I drifted off to sleep.

I awoke with the Nationals in the lead and got up to head to bed.  I shut off the TV and noticed my wife sitting in the kitchen, so I went over to kiss her goodnight before heading to bed.  She was crying.  We got a gut punch of bad news last night. I can’t get into it right now, just know my wife and kids are just fine, but this one’s bad.  And it ties directly into my recovery, so I have one simple message for today.

I am a second chance recovered alcoholic.  Meaning, I was given a second chance by a judge.  He sentenced me to treatment rather than prison and while I didn’t plan on staying sober on day one, shoveling pig shit on a working recovery farm, hungover to beat the band, I became a small miracle in the first two weeks.  Delirium tremens is a bitch that way.

I asked God for a deal; if He helped me, I’d give recovery everything I had.

I’ve never slept so good.  I woke up the next day on a mission and I’ve never looked back (well, there was one glance over my shoulder but I didn’t relapse and I did survive).  After the aforementioned glance over my shoulder, I gave up everything tied to my use of drugs and alcohol.  Old friends, old places… gone.  I changed everything to stay on the right path.

I’ve written countless times about how good my life has become and I owe all of it to that bargain – and doing something with what came of it.

Recovery is a daily gift.  My life, every awesome moment (and every tough one, too) is another point in a great existence – a life of meaning, purpose, direction, and above all, fun.  I have more fun just being on the right side of the grass, pumping air that I ever dreamed possible as I dug that pitchfork into another pile of gnarly straw in that pig stall.  Just working on my wife’s brakes last night (betwixt cuss words) put a smile on my face…  I treat my gift with the respect it needs and deserves because there’s another side to me;  A dark side.

As much good as I’m capable of today, with a wrong turn, I’m capable of just as much bad – worse.  All it takes is a tiny decision to unravel everything.  One tiny thought, entertained would lead to my downfall and land me in the ground or in prison:  “I’ve been sober long enough I could control a drink or twelve.”

Entertaining that one thought is all it would take to let that thought take hold and undo everything. There’s two months, maybe, between that and a prison sentence.  Or, if I was lucky enough to stay out of prison, seven years and I’m dead from liver failure.  That’s it.  My best outcome if I drink is dead in seven years.

My happiness balances on that thin a margin.  One little thought, gnawing away at the foundation of my awesome life.

There, but for the Grace of God, go I…

Stay hungry, my friends.  Lest you get thirsty.

The Ultimate Reason I Chose to Get Sober and Fit in the First Place

I was like so many others, overeating my way to cementing a sedentary lifestyle for myself, one meal at a time…  Then came decision time.  I was young, too.  Just 32 years-old, my once furnace-hot metabolism had cooled and I was catching up on 200 pounds.  I was a 150, dripping wet, when I sobered up.  Some of that fifty pounds was needed.  150 is too skinny for a 6′ tall man, but 200 pounds is when the double-chin starts forming.

Do I get fit or fat?  Running (and eventually cycling), or video games and the couch?

First, I never knew how painful a sedentary lifestyle was until I started running.  People complain about muscle soreness with running, I did from time to time as well, but no amount of fitness I’ve tried hurt like a sedentary lifestyle.

I’ve run half-marathons (that was enough, thank you), ridden a hundred miles a day, for days on end, 60,000+ miles in my 40’s, and nothing hurt as bad as sitting on the couch.  The second worst was getting off it.  The third was continuing to choose to stay off it.

Once I got fit, though, once I learned the tricks of running, and eventually cycling, I found my own and my peace.  I also found a few missing pieces to the puzzle of my recovery.

After riding with my friends yesterday, a nice, enjoyable 18-1/2-mph, 47-mile ride with my wife and my two best riding friends, I took a nap with my wife… on the couch.  We woke up at 3 and went to watch my daughter, a high school junior, perform with Eastern Michigan University and several other high school bands, during and after the football game against Western Michigan.

Our seats weren’t in the nosebleeds, but they were high enough, on the 40-yard line.  I took each step with ease, keeping pace with my 13-year-old daughter who weighs about as much as my legs.  I wasn’t breathing heavy when we reached our seats, 28 rows up.  If my heart rate was over 80 bpm, I’d be surprised.

I went up and down those stairs a few times, just as fast, throughout the game.

Our team (I went to Eastern as a much younger lad) was down, and Western looked to be in control until the momentum shifted when EMU stopped Western and scored just before halftime.  Eastern was down 14-10 at the half.

My daughter, at halftime, was the a part of the middle peak of the M in E M U, right out front as the EMU marching band and the six-ish other marching bands present all belted out popular hip-hop tunes they’d learned just a couple of hours earlier.  I can’t describe how cool it was to see my daughter down there on the field, at the university that asked me not to come back for my junior year, playing with the marching band that I was too much of a drunk loser to play in… If any evidence was needed that I’d done well with my recovery from addiction, I got a plateful last night.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles came out of the locker room on fire, having made some needed adjustments to their game, held the momentum from just before the half, and took it to the Western Michigan Broncos.  EMU won 34 to 27 in a classic come-from-behind victory (they’d been down as much as 14-3 in the first half).  Their offense was exceptional much of the game, but their defense really picked it up in the second half.  There were fireworks and the ROTC lit off cannon blanks every time the Eagles scored (that was awesome).

For the post-game show, my daughter’s school was chosen to perform their entire show on the big stage.  Many fans stayed to watch along with the EMU marching band.  And the Swartz Creek Dragon marching band nailed it.  Their best performance of the year.

27 years ago, I chose to accept my alcoholism and recover from it.  17 years ago, I chose to accept that, after I’d quit smoking, I loved food and had to get off my tukus and get fit.  As it does so often nowadays, all of that awesomeness came together and I got to see why I went to all of that trouble to live a clean, healthy life in the first place.

I could easily look at what I don’t have in life.  I could concentrate on where I fail, and I do every day (small failures, but failures nonetheless).  I could look at where life fails me, at everything that “isn’t fair”.  I could choose to ball up my recovery and flush it for a case of beer and a momentary escape (I never drank half-assed – if I’m going to give up and drink, even hypothetically, I’m gonna do it right).  Better, I could have given up everything that’s been good in my life decades ago, because “I’m probably not a drunk, it was just bad luck”…

I could have taken all of my misery back and I’d never have experienced what I did last yesterday.

I choose to live the way I do because being me is awesome.

Sorting Out the Difference In Pain Related to Cycling; How I Tell the Difference Between Fit or Fitness

My wife had been experiencing some pain related to cycling.  She’d switched from her normal road/triathlon bike to her gravel bike – she’s technically riding both, probably a little more on the road bike, but not by much.

Now, normally we’d have the gravel bike set up fairly close to the road bike*, but in my wife’s case, she’s got a mix-use road and triathlon bike, so the geometry is very different between the two.  In my case, the road bikes are really close and the gravel bike is pretty close.  Anyway, immediately my wife thinks she needs to start tinkering with her bikes’ setups.  This saddle needs to be moved back, the other one forward and down…  Folks, that’s a tough spot for me to be in right there, because I tinker with my bikes a lot, and she knows this.  This is different from tinkering, though, and took me a day to kick it around and figure out how to respond, because I didn’t think the issue was her setup.  See, just the week before, she’d been raving about how comfortable the road/tri bike was, how she liked the new wheels, and how “right” everything was.  You just don’t go from being content to having to change the saddle height and location in a week.  I had to gently let her onto the idea that it’d be better to ride through this one.

And I knew this because I do it all the time.

It took tens of thousands of miles and experience to understand what I can ride through and when something’s wrong with a bike’s setup.  The pains are different and in very specific and recurring places if the setup is wrong – and in the case of the saddle’s fore/aft location on the seat post, if the saddle’s too far forward all of a sudden (because you made a mistake putting it back, ahem), it’ll sap your power enough you’ll be crushed and dropped off the back on a long ride.  Yes, that did happen to me on a hundred miler a few years back.  It did suck – and it was quite humbling when I discovered what I’d done.

So, fit vs. fitness…

Fit problems that cause pain are recurring and localized.  In other words, if I’ve got a fit problem, the pain related will be a nagging, stationary pain.  Say my saddle is too high.  This will cause a few posterior problems, but typically on the sides, where my hip bones hit the saddle while I’m pedaling, from the pelvis rocking back and forth so the feet can reach the pedals.  It’s not the sit bones, either, which would be further back.  Too high will also, likely, cause back pain if left alone too long.  How about a saddle that’s too low?  Pain in the back of the knee is generally the first thing you’ll notice that’s wrong… And there are dozens of other pains and causes, that range from a sore neck (handlebar too low), to numb hands (handlebar too high or possibly too close).  Too much reach, if you’re constantly sitting on the horn of the saddle, or you ride on the bar tops more than the hoods and drops.  The point is, it’s been my experience that we’ll have the same pain and problems every time we ride the bike.

My favorite example is the saddle that came with my 5200.  The original saddle was big, bulky, heavy and 155mm wide.  Unfortunately, my sit bones are about 142mm apart (I ride, comfortably on a 143mm Specialized Romin and a phenomenally comfortable 138mm Bontrager Montrose Pro), so as soon as I started riding the bike, I found myself with severe hamstring issues.  I thought it was due to running, but after some time of cycling and running, the issues came back immediately during my first ride back after some couch time.  I had a new saddle within 24 hours.

Now, that first ride back, I could feel the pressure on the sides of my groin, but nothing in the sit bones (because the saddle was so wide, I wasn’t sitting on the sit bones).  That first ride back, the sides flared up something nasty, and I could feel the pain radiate to my hamstrings, and that’s how I knew what was up.  Localized and recurring.

More elusive are the random pains.  These are the pains I ride through.  I will get the odd sore neck or shoulder… maybe a sore knee or ankle.  That I know of, you can’t ride the amount of miles I put in, at the speed I do, and not have a few pains flare up now and again.  It just comes with the exercise.  For these, I take a Tylenol in the morning and a bike ride in the afternoon.  That usually does the trick.  For those elusive, mobile pains, I ride through them until they become a bigger issue.  I don’t change anything on the bike’s setup for these.  They’ve always gone away with time – usually a matter of hours, no more than a day or two.

I’ve built a vast set of experiences in regard to cycling in running from which to pull if I experience something that just doesn’t feel quite right.  Over 60,000 miles and the only time I’ve taken time off the bike for an injury was the wide saddle issue. Still, I’m not (near) always right.  If I run into a pain that I haven’t experienced or already ridden through, that I just can’t put my finger on, I head to the bike shop to consult with the owner and a couple of the mechanics I trust.  I do this before I change anything on the bike, because I’ve been known to make the wrong correction a time or two.  And I know enough, if the pain doesn’t subside after all of that, to go see a doctor.

*I wrote “fairly” close when referring to the setups of the gravel and road bike because quite often the two aren’t exact.  For instance, I purposely have my gravel bike set up to promote a more relaxed, upright posture.  I do this so I can better see bumps and potholes coming because anyone who knows anything about dirt road riding in Michigan, knows to hold on, ’cause it’s gonna get bumpy.  My road bikes, on the other hand, are mainly about speed and aerodynamics.